Friday, December 29, 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

And another thing about Christmas Eve Day

Um, well, at my sisters house on Christmas Eve day, I drank a whole bottle of wine on my own, so if I said anything I shouldn't have, I'm sorry.

Like telling my niece's new boyfriend that her brother calls him Hank as in Hank Hill from the cartoon because he sells propane equipment and the boyfriend said "Oh really?" in a "I'm gonna get him" tone of voice and I couldn't read him if he was serious or joking. So Phil if you got sucker punched over that one, I'm sorry.

Or like bossing everyone around when it came to distributing and opening presents. And here I thought I was always a follower and not a leader. Just call me Queen Cabernet Sauvignon!

And um, like when I might have embarrassed my other niece by declaring that if she ever breaks up with Andy, he should still come to our Christmas gatherings.

And if there was anything else, I'm sorry. But I had a really fun time! ;)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I'm Alive

Holy crap, where did the last 3 weeks go? Sorry I've been M.I.A. The busy side of the holidays are over and I'll start posting regularly again.

We had a nice time at our family gatherings this last weekend. Was a whirlwind tour with a 3 hour trip to hubbies parents and then a 3 hour trip the next day to my sister's house then a 3 hour trip home Christmas eve night. Christmas day hubby and I lounged around, kept the wood stove going and watched a few movies. Our Christmas meal was potatoes, cabbage and kielbasa - that's different!

We'll be hosting Christmas next year at our house for the hubby's family. I'm going to start cleaning right now. ;)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Have I Packed?

K-friend and I are headed to Seattle Thursday. We'll be visiting friends, doing some sightseeing and coming back on Monday with a Chinook puppy in our laps. The puppy will be joining K-friends pack.

Of my list of places I'd like to visit, Seattle is at the top. I feel a bit guilty that hubby is not coming along. Next time! I was chatting online with my sister tonight and she asked if I had packed yet. I chuckled. Last minute packer here. I'll be finishing the laundry an hour before I have to head out the door. Maybe I'll break my mold and be ready ahead of time.

I'll try to update while I'm gone if I am able. Don't tear the place up while I'm gone. Renny's in charge. ;)

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Gift of Gab

K-friend and I went to an art fair on Saturday at the beautiful Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul. Saw a lot of wonderful art, met some great people and picked up a few bobbles. K-friend has the talent of striking up conversations with anyone, anywhere. The gift of gab. I just adore that about her and am learning to be more open to people. I can usually start talking to someone but when it comes to holding a longer conversation with new people, I struggle.

I have learned a few things along the way that has helped me. Number one is that people love to talk about themselves - ask questions about their family, work, hobbies, etc. I'm a great listener and like to hear others stories. But then I run across someone who knows that pointer too and I become the questionee. I'll be talking then I'll stumble and up comes the image in my head of
Chris Farley as a celebrity interviewer on Saturday Night Live hitting his head with his hand while saying "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!"

I guess we all have things in life to improve upon and that's just one on my long list of imperfections. To end on a positive note, I do have a great sense of humor though. After the art fair, K-friend and I went to a bar/restaurant for lunch and found this mural on the side of a building next to the place.
Taken with the cell phone so not great quality. "Big Wood - Timber Frames." OK, so the sense of humor is questionable too! ;)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sunday Art

3 dimensional lithograph by Michael Pierce

Friday, December 01, 2006

Strong Bad: Caffeine Experiment

I love the Strong Bad cartoons from the Homestar Runner gang. This one I find myself repeating the "Ohhhhhh devilish laugh" part over and over! Now, I need to figure out how to make that my system alert sound. The inner child is strong in this one OB1.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Merry Geek-mas!

OK, I just need more geeks on my shopping list. Had to share these gems just in case you have a geek to shop for.

Some Like It Hot

USB Mug Warmer & Hub

This little baby does double duty. Using only the power from your USB connection, you can keep your beverages hot with a warming pad and also add 4 USB ports to your system. That's hot.

Some Like It Cold

USB Beverage Chiller

This is the only way to keep a drink cold while you're at your computer. Shortly plugging the chiller into a USB port (no external outlet needed), the coldplate chills to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the perfect temperature for helping keep your beverage cool. I love the photo - notice they're keeping their Bawls cold. :D

You Are My Sunshine

Soldius 1 Solar Charger

The Soldius 1 Solar Charger can help you tap into this free source of energy; you just plug it in and point it towards the Sun. It generates enough power to fully recharge your device batteries in just 2 to 3 hours (in direct sunlight). Compatible with all iPod flavors it also includes adapters for more than 250 models of mobile phones. The device folds in half and it's light enough to fit in your shirt pocket or purse.

I'm a Swiss Miss

Swiss Memory USB

This gorgeous Swiss Army knife, with a built-in USB flash drive, is probably causing you to become very excited. This is a geek's dream gadget brought to life. The Swiss Memory USB is the perfect marriage of technology, practicality, materials, and quality design. It perfectly pulls together four important tools that no geek should ever be without: USB flash drive, LED light, Swiss Army knife, and ballpoint pen. So double 0.

Oh, and Santa,
I was really, really, really, really nice

Bluetooth Laser Virtual Keyboard

This tiny device laser-projects a keyboard on any flat surface... you can then type away accompanied by simulated key click sounds. It really is true future magic at its best. You'll be turning heads the moment you pull this baby from your pocket and use it to compose an e-mail on your bluetooth enabled PDA or Cell Phone. With 63 keys and and full size QWERTY layout the Laser Virtual Keyboard can approach typing speeds of a standard keyboard... in a size a little larger than a matchbook. Beam me up!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wicked good!

A Book
by Emily Dickinson

He ate and drank the precious words,
His spirit grew robust;
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was dust.
He danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings Was but a book.
What liberty A loosened spirit brings!

I no longer have the patience to sit and read books but I love the art of the written word. I have compromised and become a great fan of audio books. A cassette player, CD player or now my iPod are often hanging off me and plugged into my ears while I'm doing chores, walking the dog or on a long drive.

I've just finished listening to "Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West" by Gregory Maguire. Wicked good! Maguire did a beautiful job of winding a more "adult" story before, in and around the original children's version of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

Maguire successfully added layers of complexity and new viewpoints without rearranging the original story. There were many similarities to world history throughout. I kept thinking L. Frank Baum's story is the snippet you would see on the TV network news where Gregory Maguire tells the rest of the story.

The audio book was narrated by the talented John McDonough who has a wonderful reading voice and keeps the story interesting. I'd highly recommend either the audio book or the printed version. Now if the musical would just come to Minneapolis/St. Paul!

Black Friday - What a strange frenzy

Did you get sucked in? Did the day after Thanksgiving "6-Hour Sale", "One Day Only" sale flyers entice you into joining a mob of underslept, cranky, "it's mine! get out of my face!" maniacs? I did it once about 5 years ago.

I decided to go to Shopko in our smallish town at 6:00 a.m. The prize was a set of three artificial pine trees standing 3, 4 and 5 feet tall for some amazingly low price I have now forgotten. I had spotted them in the sale flyer and decided I NEEDED them. I pulled into the parking lot at 6:00 a.m. sharp. I didn't think it would be a huge crowd, it's just River Falls for pete's sake! There was a crowd of people walking in the doors when I parked my car near the end of the aisle as the lot was almost full. I should've left right then. But I "needed" that set of three artificial pine trees standing 3, 4 and 5 feet tall! My three trees from the orient (made in China I'm sure). I joined the crowd.

My frustration level rose immediately with people pausing and looking in the aisles. I needed to get to the middle back of the store to the Christmas decorations! I silently screamed in my head 1000 times "get out of my way!" I wondered if people could see the craze in my eyes. My need to get to the back of the store as quick as possible and they were in the way!

It took an amazingly long time to get to the holiday department. When I finally arrived, face warm and flushed with raised blood pressure, I spotted the display. There was a Shopko associate standing near the three pine trees from China. The display trees only, no boxes. Sold out already. I walked up and got a closer look at the three remaining display trees just in case the associate would find the box in back and let me take them home for the amazingly low price. But once I got up and looked at them, they were the ugliest things I had ever seen. What was I thinking? Damn. All this fuss and I didn't even want them. My blood pressure dropped immediately and I started to see the humor in it all. My trip out of the store took just as long even with empty hands. But it was a more enjoyable trip as I did some people watching on the way out. I had a grin on my face all the way to the exit. I said to myself "never again."

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday Art

"Wicked: The Musical"
illustration by
L. Whyte

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Be Thankful

Courtesy of My Daily Insights

By Unknown

Be thankful that you don't already have
everything you desire.

If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

On The Hunt

Last weekend was deer hunting opener in Wisconsin. Beginning pre-dawn Saturday morning the roads came alive with pickups filled with fluorescent orange clad humans. On occassion the quiet would be interrupted with bangs and booms from guns. This will go on for another week. In the meantime I walk Rico after sunset when hunting for the day has ended. I also sigh a bit of relief that hubby has never shown much interest in hunting.

I am also on the hunt. We have declared open season on the little mice that think they're going to have a cozy home inside our house for the winter. It's just part of the, um, "charm" of living in a home built in 1895. Old houses get holes. Our house cat Gracie is not too interested in the furry invaders so the traps are set and loaded with peanut butter. When we catch one, it quickly becomes a treat to the outdoor kitties. I think they enjoy the peanut butter flavored mice over the non-flavored ones.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday Art

"Little Jersey Girl"
Denise Rich of San Diego, CA

Media: oil on masonite

Friday, November 17, 2006

My Psychic Connection

I have this friend. We've been friends so long I have to get the calculator out to figure out we've been friends for 23 years. We talk almost every day and she is the reason I have 3000 cell phone minutes per month on my plan instead of 1500.

There have been many times I will pick up my phone to call her and while in my hand it will suddenly start playing the theme song from "The Monkees." It is her ring tone. I usually have to let the song play out for a bit then hit the "answer call" button singing along "...hey, hey we're the monkees!" Then I say, "You are very scary, get out of my head." And then she laughs that knowing laugh.

Every once in a while I return the psychic favor by calling her at the moment she is thinking of me. Or as in tonight's case, I called her when she was typing my name in an email to someone else. But she is psychic-ier than I by far. (woohoo, new word!)

What an untapped phenomenon we all have within the gray matter. I imagine one day we will evolve to the point that we don't need man made communication devices. Maybe we'll be like those scary big headed people Capt. Kirk dealt with on the old Star Trek TV show.

Call me...Call me...Call me...
Maybe if I scrunch up my eyes and hold my index fingers to my temple...
Call me...Call me....Call me...
Nope. Didn't work this time. Traditional phone calls will have to do for a while yet.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Home Town

I graduated with 32 classmates in Western Minnesota 24 years ago. A few years after I graduated, my mother moved and my family ties to the area were severed. I went to my five year class reunion but haven't been to my home town since.

This Saturday my sisters, our mother and I went to our home town. When we lived on the farm we had the most wonderful neighbors. Our families have a lot of fine memories together. This Saturday their seven children held a reception to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

It was fun to see everyone. The strange thing was that they all got 20 years older. How did that happen? There were a few that are now in their 40's that I no longer recognized. The older people that I hadn't seen since they were in their 50's hadn't changed that much other than a few more gray hairs and a few more wrinkles.

Growing up in such a small town meant you not only knew your classmates but all their brothers and sisters and parents and the classmates of your own brothers and sisters. It was a great place to grow up and going back to see these people felt like visiting family.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Sunday Art

"PRAIRIESCAPE: Prairie sky-scraper #3"
Sandra Schroeder of Alberta, Canada

Media: water color

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rico: 5 months

This look was in response to my sniffing my nose. Priceless.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting Day

Today is Voting Day. Be sure to exercise your right.

You know what I think the best part of voting day is? As of 8:00AM the campaign advertisements stop. Trees can grow again, the phone calls from "unknown" will stop and we won't have to watch bad acting and trash talking on TV by politicians.

Old Cowboys and We Be Jammin'

Brother J2, the Old Cowboy in the family, learned all about gravity this weekend. He fell off a horse and did a number on the knee. Old Cowboys never get old, they just make more visits to the Orthopeadic Surgeon. Truly hope it's a fast recovery for you. I'll bring puzzles for you next weekend.

Last night hubbie walked into my office and iTunes had landed on "Mack the Knife" by Bobby Darin. This began an hour long session of paging through music on iTunes with him bobbing along and saying, "I want that one!" and the occassional unrepressed urge to get up and dance. The list is so far about 4 CD's worth of songs and he is in awe of my library of music. It was a fun evening.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday Art

"Hand" by Gloria J. de los Santos of Washington state
Media: Oils on X-ray print

Saturday, November 04, 2006

My Left Hand (not a sequel)

It was twelve years ago today that I fought with a woodsplitter and it won. A group of us were cutting and splitting wood to stock up for the winter. We had quite a system - two were cutting the logs with chainsaws, one guy was working the lever on the splitter and hubby and I were loading the splitter. We had been hard at it all morning. It happened so quick I'm not sure exactly what happened. What I remember was keeping my hand on the log until the wedge met the log - we had been doing that to keep it steady. The wedge hit a gnarly piece of red elm and the log popped up placing my hand between the splitter and the wood. I realized what was happening and I yelled. I yelled not because I was in pain, but rather to get the operator to pull back the wedge. I didn't really feel anything - just numb. I grabbed my hand and looked at John and said "Hospital, now!"

Long story short, ended up amputating the middle finger on my left hand. Rather than leaving a big gap, they also removed the knuckle and bone for the finger down to my wrist. It is not very noticable and most people can know me for quite a while before they realize I can only count to 9 with my fingers. I was typing 60 wpm again within a couple of months. Mom jokingly said "I raised my kids and sent them out into the world all in one piece and they come back missin' parts." :-)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

MC Honky: Like a Duck

"MC Honky" is an alter ego from Eels' Marc Oliver Everett (E)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Excuse me while I happy dance!

After two years of waiting, I'm officially shopping for my concertina!! Feel like a kid on Christmas morning! Excuse me while I do a happy dance!

Six Word Story

"For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never used." Ernest Hemingway once wrote that in response to a challenge from a friend to compose a story in just six words. Hemingway said later that he thought it was the best thing that he had ever written.

Wired magazine recently picked this up and made it into an article by asking contemporary authors to give it a try.

Feel free to write your six word stories in the comments.

Here's some I came up with:

Box said blonde. Liars, it's red!

Turned and ran. Bullet was faster.

Good guy. Bad guy. Pretty girl.

Log splitter stopped. Four fingers now.

He liked boys but dated girls.

War didn't end, was only adjourned.

His eyes closed. My eyes opened.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sunday Art

"Shooting Stars" by Christy Babrick of Michigan
Media: Digital/Photoshop

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Welcome to the world baby boy!

After only a few hours of contractions, an 8 lb. 5 oz. Andrew August joined the world this morning! I'm a great aunt for the second time. My niece and baby are healthy and happy and their first born is now a big sister. Only one thing was missing - Dad. My nieces' husband is somewhere between Kuwait and the U.S. on his way stateside after a 6 month tour in Iraq. He wasn't able to communicate while enroute but said he would call when their plane landed on the east coast to refuel. He's due to arrive at the Army base in Colorado Springs on Tuesday morning and then he’ll be able to rejoin his family. Oh, here I go again - have been breaking into happy tears all day!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Inspiration Overload

My friend has a show at her pottery studio every year at this time. It has become an annual event for us to make the tour of sales that run in conjunction with hers. We visited three of them yesterday afternoon.

The first was on a dead end road in this gorgeous hollow. We both commented on how we live in such a beautiful part of the country. Lots of rolling hills and hidden valleys and ridges with views to die for. There was a renovated farmhouse and cute shed that housed the sale. Just walking up the yard was a joy. First thing I saw was a smaller oil can that had been tipped on its side and given a corrugated tin roof was hung from a tree as a bird house. An old metal barn cupola centered in a flower bed which earlier in the year had been surrounded by coneflower blooms. A flickering in a tree ahead proved to be small pieces of mirror glued back to back over a heavy fish line - this was made into a "garland" and hung from tree branches. A closer look revealed there were several of the mirrored garlands adorning the trees. The yard was filled with small touches like this. I immediately started taking mental notes of projects. Inside was a beautifully displayed mixture of old, new, vintage, antique, crafts, fine art, whimsical and classic items. We had to walk through three times before making our purchases - including the glove holding the spider on the left. On the walk back to the car I saw even more wonderful touches to the outdoor space...more mental notetaking.

The next stop was up the road a few miles to a home on the ridge overlooking the river valley. This sale has been an annual event for many years. Again, the sale was held in a specially constructed outbuilding that looked like it had been there for 100 years. Walking up to the building, in the garden before the front porch were some metal sculptures for sale. These were made from found metal items welded together to create the most interesting animals and creatures. My favorite was a big spider about 2 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter. The legs were railroad spikes welded together to create 8 legs holding a center plate above the ground. Upon the center plate was a black bowling ball placed to look like the spiders body and two finger holes looked like eerie eyes. Inside was a more sparse mixture of fine art, dried florals, handmade soaps, fiber arts, canned goods and jewelry. She had a new artist there this year who painted the most beautiful images in watercolor. I looked through every piece and was in awe of her talent. I bought hubby a jar of pickled green beans - he was thrilled!

The third and final stop was up the road a bit further. I love going to this place - it is my dream house. Beside the home is an old barn that has been fixed up using old farm relics and a lot of the original windows, wood and doors. They have a couple of pot bellied stoves billowing heat and a large array of crafts and furniture. The furniture at this sale always gets my imagination rolling. Many of the pieces are made of old doors. Much to my husband's dismay, I collect old doors. They get stacked here and there just waiting for me to do something with them. I even have the door to the farmhouse I grew up in. So when I see this furniture I start planning my dining room with a red hutch and black buffet made of old doors with a harvest table surrounded by mismatched old chairs (another collection) and a bench made of old doors. I can envision it in great detail. Kind of a dining room of misfit furniture. Remember the misfit toys in "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer"? I'm running a home for wayward furniture. I didn't buy anything here but resolved that I need to bring hubby here and see if he'll understand the great value of those doors and get inspired too.

Once I got home I had to take notes and make a new "to do" list. I'll set it right next to the notes I took last year that are gathering dust. One of these days...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Stuck In/On My Head...

Head On, apply directly to the head.
Head On, apply directly to the head.
Head On, apply directly to the head.

There. I've passed it on.
You're welcome.
*insert evil laugh here* >:)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

And Your Little Dog Too

My three nieces and my great niece are dressing up as "Wizard of Oz" characters for halloween this year. My great niece is almost 2 and is the perfect size to transform into a flying monkey. My nieces are going to be Dorothy, the wicked witch and Glinda, the good witch. I can't wait to see photos as I am wondering how the wicked witch will look being 8+ months pregnant! That's a vision not even I imagined. <|:)

One of the yearly TV programs I looked forward to with excitement and trepidation was the showing of the movie "The Wizard of Oz" every October. I don't know exactly the first time I saw the movie but I must have been very young. That wicked witch scared the bejesus out of me every time. And I, as Dorothy did, hated Miss Gulch when she carried Toto off on her bicycle. I have one recurring dream I can remember having as a child and it involved a wicked witch flying around on a broom in the hayloft of our barn.

I'm not sure if they still show "The Wizard of Oz" in October. I'll have to watch for it. Would be fun to see it again.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

That will be $1.75 please.

I live near a small college town in Wisconsin with the best movie house ever. The original owner owned a film distribution firm and bought this theatre in the 70's. He showed new releases for unheard of low ticket prices. He passed away a few years ago and everyone was wondering if the tradition would continue. It did. His daughter took over the theatre and published a book about her father, the theatre and the many, many movie reviews he wrote. It's a fun stroll down movie history lane. She used the proceeds from the sale of this book to refurbish the theatre and it is alive and well.

It's a weekly phone call I make to see what is playing. If it's something I'm slightly interested in, I'll go see the film. Even the ones that you would normally say "I'll wait until the video comes out." See, the ticket prices are only $3.00 for adults, $2.00 for kids. And for a mere $1.75 you can carry in a medium popcorn and a large soda. Dinner and a movie - who can beat those prices?

A friend and I went to see "Little Miss Sunshine" tonight. This is one of the best movies I've seen in a long, long time. It was fun to see the crowd - young, old, men, women and they all enjoyed the movie. Go see it if you get a chance. Or if you can't afford the theatre in your town, wait until the video comes out. ;)

The Waiting Game

In the late 80's, early 90's I used to crochet, cross stitch, embroider, and make wood crafts. The wood crafts were those cute, knick knacky tchotchkes that everyone had in their "country style" decorated homes. Hubby built me a work bench complete with scroll saw and belt sander. Then came the drill press. I'd spend hours cutting, sanding, painting, assembling and even sold some things at craft sales. After about 6 years of that, you could walk into any store and buy those types of things made in China for near to nothing. Why spend the time making the stuff? After an accident with my hand in '94 I gave up the needlework. Not sure why. I'm sure I can do it but haven't picked it up since.

Then came the rubber stamp craze and quickly hopped on that bandwagon. I made cards, cards, cards and more cards and sold these too. From this I moved into the wire people cards. These are little characters formed from of wire, fabric and paper on each hand made card. They looked nice in frames too. These became my passion and the rubber stamps went by the wayside. I made oodles and oodles of these. They were very "artsy" so I sold these at some art fairs. I did OK but spent more time on them than I was getting paid for. About this time I started taking some drawing classes. These went amazingly well and I started drawing and dabbling with water colors, pastels and paints.

Then I started my own business. Since then my creative self has been surpressed. Allbeit as a Graphic Designer creating is my game but I was a designer in the greeting card phase. I miss that creative part of my self. I feel like it's down in my soul somewhere but something is holding it back. Everything is still there just waiting for me. Come out, come out wherever you are! Something will click someday and that door will open up again. I hate the waiting game. Hurry up already!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Rico with Squeaky Toy

OK, another video of Rico and his squeaky toy taken today. He had us laughing so hard we were crying and I was having a hard time holding in my crazy laughter. Again with the digital camera so quality not that great. Time to get the "big boy" bed. He's obviously outgrown the first one.

Dove Evolution

I love Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Les triplettes de Belleville

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Crash & Burn

Crash & Burn are the two kittens Rico and I found on a walk down the road in August. Burn is also known as Burnadette since our first visit to the vet.

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& Burn:
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& Burn checking out a friends cat on the computer:
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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Robin Redbreast

Winter teasing this morning,
a reminder it's on the way.
Snowflakes blowing and melting,
upon the ground warmed yesterday.

Robins gather on branches,
one flinches and fifteen take flight.
The barn cats snug in their warm bed,
wind howling through trees in the night.

Toasty fire in the wood stove,
an extra blanket on the bed.
Winter coats hanging on hooks,
evidence that summer has fled.

(Ok, Ok, I'll leave the poem writing to the pros...)

Robin Redbreast
by William Allingham

Good-bye, good-bye to Summer!
For Summer's nearly done;
The garden smiling faintly,
Cool breezes in the sun;
Our Thrushes now are silent,
Our Swallows flown away, --
But Robin's here, in coat of brown,
With ruddy breast-knot gay.
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
Robin singing sweetly
In the falling of the year.

Bright yellow, red, and orange,
The leaves come down in hosts;
The trees are Indian Princes,
But soon they'll turn to Ghosts;
The scanty pears and apples
Hang russet on the bough,
It's Autumn, Autumn, Autumn late,
'Twill soon be Winter now.
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And welaway! my Robin,
For pinching times are near.

The fireside for the Cricket,
The wheatstack for the Mouse,
When trembling night-winds whistle
And moan all round the house;
The frosty ways like iron,
The branches plumed with snow, --
Alas! in Winter, dead and dark,
Where can poor Robin go?
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And a crumb of bread for Robin,
His little heart to cheer.

Monday, October 09, 2006


She would've been 22 years old on October 23rd but her body couldn't quite make it that far. She far outlived our expectations. We gave her a good, loving home and she returned the love two fold. It's so damn hard to say goodbye to our old friends. We'll miss you more than you'll know Kitty.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Rico in Action

Rico: 4 months

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Rico & Annie's Puppy Play Date

Last weekend I packed Rico and myself into the mini-van and made the 3 hour trek to my sisters house. This was his first "longer than 20 minute" car ride. For the first 10 miles he was entertained by trying to bite the cars as they went by. It was a quiet, slow-motion, air bite thing he was doing. Is hard to imagine what was going through his head. After he got bored with that he settled down and went to sleep.

After an hour on the road, we stopped at my friends house to borrow a dog crate. I was nervous about letting Rico run loose on my sister's farm. Not sure how he would react to the horses and the chickens and was just not willing to let him have free roam yet.

My friend has two older dogs that Rico had not met yet. We decided to take them all on a walk along the trail on leash to introduce them first. Rico barked at first but as we got walking he just wanted to play. Slowly they all got to sniff each other and by the end of the walk we felt comfortable letting them play together in the house. All went fine. Rico seems to know when to be submissive and had a good time playing with Bailey & Bear. We packed up the crate and got on the road again. Rico fell asleep after being on the road a few minutes.

My sister and her family just adopted a 4 month old puppy named Annie. We're not sure what she is but I think she'a Golden Retriever/Shepherd mix. The people she got her from said she was an American Setter and Chocolate Lab cross. We have yet to discover a breed of dog called American Setter. Pedigree aside, she's just plain sweet. This was the whole reason for the trip - Rico & Annie's puppy play date. Don't worry, I know how lame that sounds.

We pulled into my sisters driveway about 10:00 Friday night. My niece was outside with Annie holding her by the collar. I put Rico's leash on and he hopped out of the car behind me, barking at Annie the whole time. We brought them closer together. They wouldn't stop barking so we decided what the heck, let them go. The playing began and didn't stop until 2:30am when my sister and couldn't keep our eyes open any more and I put Rico in the crate.

Next morning I let him out and he got to meet the horses (he'd rather play with Annie) and he saw the chickens (he'd rather play with Annie) and met the other two house dogs, Zeus and Lola (he'd rather play with Annie). They were inseparable. I'm glad my sister felt the same way about the play date thing and enjoyed watching them play as much as I did.

On Saturday we went for a walk on the trail, went to our Mom's house with the dogs, went to our sister's house with the dogs and went to a place called Inspiration Point and walked the trail with the dogs. It was so fun and beautiful as the trees were in their full fall regalia. It was actually nice to have the dogs because they pulled us up the hill. I think we could've made some money at Inspiration Point renting them out at the bottom of the hill as walking aids. And of course, I forgot to bring the camera along.

On Sunday we left for home and stopped at my friends Mothers house for dinner. Rico was the perfect gentleman and didn't beg for food at the dinner table even though he did make a failed attempt for the prime rib roast on the kitchen counter. He was also one tired puppy from all the activity. I practically had to carry him to his pen when we got home Sunday night.

I was worried about Rico on Monday. He was not his usual rambunctious self. Monday night my sister called and asked if Rico was depressed too. Apparently, Annie & Rico had withdrawals from each other! How sweet. He was back to his old self on Tuesday afternoon. Next it's Annie's turn to come visit. (I'm sick, I know. Deal with it.)

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I like this...

in an email forwarded from Mom...

When you were born,
you were crying
and everyone around you was smiling.

Live your life so at the end,
you're the one who is smiling
and everyone around you is crying.

Every Cloud Has A Warm Blonde Lining

I can remember seeing my first gray hairs when I was 18. A few gray hairs in a blonde head of hair is no big deal. Fast forward to age 30 and the realization that among the siblings, my oldest brother and I had received the "early gray hair" gene. It was then I decided to start dyeing my hair on a regular basis.

I usually have a box of Preference by Loreal (because I'm worth it) on my bathroom cabinet shelf. Usually light ash blonde but occassionally I would stray for a bit of adventure. I once wandered as far as dark ash blonde. The excitement was too much to handle and a few weeks later I went back to my old standby, light ash blonde. (I need to get a life!)

On occassion I will let my hair grow out until it gets to the "I can't stand this hair anymore!" poochy stage or the first 100 degree summer day, whichever comes first. It's then I'll run to Fantastic Sams and get it cut very short. This is usually an opportunity to check in on the "real" hair color. In other words, "how gray is it now?" Fast forward to age 42 and this last hair reality check was rather frightening. I am now 85% gray except for a strange half circle area over my brain stem at the back of my head which is light brown. Maybe it's my brain putting up a valiant last stand in the gray hair war. Or maybe it's my hair yelling "I'm not as old as I look!" within that last patch of color. I've kept it "au-naturale" for the past few months.

I was at Target yesterday and I decided it was time to leave the reality check behind and was time to pick up a box of Preference. I was feeling adventurous. I wondered what the warm blonde would be like. After much deliberation and a few sighs from women trying to get to the same shelf space, the warm blonde found it's way in my basket. (Note to self, don't shop on Saturday afternoons anymore.)

Last night I went into the bathroom and opened up the box. I mixed the color and worked it into my hair. Usually you leave it in 25 minutes but since I am gray, I get an additional 20 minute sentence. With towel wrapped around my shoulders, I went into the living room and sat down next to hubby. He looked at me and asked if I was going red this time. I thought that was a funny comment and told him "no, warm blonde." I wasn't interested in what he was watching so I got up and went into the kitchen and washed some dishes. Looking at the clock, waiting patiently, washing dishes and wishing I was that guy on the new tv show "Heroes" that can speed up time. I was excited! (again, I need to get a life!) Finally, the 45 minutes were up.

When I walked in to the bathroom and looked at my gooey hair in the mirror, I was shocked. The goo had turned a very definite red over the past 45 minutes. I now realized why hubby had asked if I was going red. While washing out the coloring, I convinced myself it was going to be OK and it just looked like that to add the "warm" into the blonde. All rinsed out and conditioned I brought my wet head up to the mirror. I said to myself "It will look less red and get lighter when I dry it." I dried it. There was definitely a "more red than blonde" now adorning my crown. All I could think of was Clay hair looks like Clay Aitkins new mane. I walked into the living room to show hubby. "I like it!" he said enthusiastically. Good enough for me! He's the one who has to look at it the most and it's rare I get an enthusiastic response to my hair color. After 24 hours it's kind of growing on me. So I'm now a very berry blonde. Until the next reality check anyways.

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David Sedaris on Letterman


Friday, September 29, 2006

I'm one of them...

Ugh! I've become one of those obsessed dog owners! Here are my obsessed dog owner confessions:
  • whenever I'm in a store, any store, I have to check out the dog toy section
  • when I change into my pj's at night, I empty dog treats out of my pants pockets
  • Monday nights are puppy school night
  • I say "good potty" in a high squeaky voice when I see him going to the bathroom
  • I have dog toys in my car
and the piest de resistance...
  • I am taking Rico to my sisters for the weekend for a play date with her new puppy.
Just kill me now. But let me feed Rico first. ;)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Avast there mateys!

Yarr!! This day be a special one matey's. It be "Talk Like A Pirate Day." If ye be a curious wench or scallywag, travel the high cyberseas to this isle of info or join the naysayers swimmin' in the chumbucket.

I'll leave ye with a dity me shipmates n' me been singin' all day...

Yohoho... Avast there matey...
Pieces of eight, pieces of eight...
Dance a proper jig or walk the plank.
Booty for all and plunder a'plenty.
Shiver me timbers and boarders away...
A r r r r...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Working for myself has its ups and downs. Today was a downer. Everything took twice as long as it should have. And I missed a deadline. I hate that feeling. Thank goodness for understanding customers but I still worked myself into quite a tizzy this morning. Days like this I miss co-workers to lend a hand and an ear.

At my last job when I had hard days I would email hubby this code: CIQMJ? He never said anything but I'm sure he didn't look forward to coming home to me as it usually meant I was frustrated and upset about my job again. What is CIQMJ you ask? It stood for "Can I Quit My Job." Funny thing is the first time I emailed CIQMJ to him, he knew what it stood for without explanation. It's sometimes scary how well he knows me.

If I could even entertain the thought of packing it in, today would have been a CIQMJ email day. Is a little tougher to quit when I am the business. I should be grateful, there's a lot more good days then there are bad days. OK, rant over.

Monday, September 11, 2006

One Year Smoke-Free

Tomorrow, September 12th, will mark my one year anniversary as a non-smoker. I spent 26 years as a smoker. Had my first cigarette when I was 13 years old and started smoking regularly at 15. Now I can say I quit at 41.

I'm not sure why it worked this time. I had tried to quit unsuccessfully two or three times before. Maybe it was the right recipe for me. I had picked a date a month prior. Got the Nicorette gum purchased and went online to learn about quitting smoking at Read others stories on how they quit and printed up "Not One Puff Ever" signs and taped them up all over the place. Then when the day came, I emailed my family and friends and asked for support. If I failed this time, I was not only accountable to myself but to everyone else.

The first few weeks were the most difficult but every day it got easier to breath through and past the urges. The changes in my body helped my resolve as they started. Being able to take a hard, fast, deep breath without coughing. Being able to walk through knee deep snow down my neighbors long driveway without getting the stitch in my side or feeling like I would pass out because I couldn't get enough air into my body.

It's been a while since I've gone to my "Quit-O-Meter" program to see what the totals are so this will be good...
Smobriety comes to: 0Y 11M 4W 2D 13H 3Mns
$-Saved to date: $2161.62
I have NOT smoked 14,411 cigarettes.

Now, where did that $2,161.62 go?

Friday, August 18, 2006


They called him Cannonball. He was a drill sargeant in the marines, a Korean War vet, an Indiana State University graduate with multiple degrees, a husband, a father, a friend, a successful businessman, a witness of history, a teacher of others, a curmudgeon, a joker, a chaser of squirrels, an avid reader, a light turner-offer, a wearer of stocking caps in winter, a newspaper article highlighter, a gambler, an ex-smoker, my friends father and he is gone but never forgotten. It was an honor to be a pallbearer at his farewell. I will miss you Don.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Turkey Trot

Sitting in my office yesterday and I heard this strange noise outside. I opened the door and discovered a wild turkey making a ruckus. Then I noticed trotting away from the turkey, towards me was Climber, one of our outside cats. The turkey was chasing Climber. I put Climber in the office and grabbed my camera. I got a couple of shots of her before she started down the front hill. I watched her and walked slowly towards her and realized why she was chasing Climber away. Down the hill were 4 chicks and a young male. I was lucky enough to get a few shots of them before they trotted off into the woods.

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Rico: 10 weeks

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Animal Parade

Rico and I have been going for walks every evening. We walk down the gravel road beside our place. It's a pretty quiet road and more often than not, we won't have any traffic on the road while on our walk. Last Tuesday I decided to double our distance and we kept on going. We got to the tree line and I noticed something laying on the road ahead. I figured it was a dead squirrel. When we got up to the animal, it was an orange and white tiger striped kitten. I picked up Rico so he wouldn't mess with it and kicked it off into the ditch. "Poor little thing" I said. I set Rico down and we kept walking.

Rico is doing great off leash. He heels like a pro. I'll speed up, slow down, zig-zag and turn while he keeps near perfect pace. If I stop, he stops, sits down and looks up at me. I know this won't last forever but am trying to reinforce the good behavior now so he knows the right way before he becomes the defiant teenage dog. I walk half with leash and half off leash just so he gets used to the leash. He's a quick learner.

We were past the curve in the road when all of the sudden this little gray kitten jumped onto the road. I swear if it could talk it would've yelled "Hello! I'm so damn happy to see you!" Huddled on the edge of the road were two more kittens, apparently siblings. They immediately were begging for some petting, very lovey kittens. Rico didn't know what to do so he decided to bark at them. It didn't phase the kittens at all. I figured momma cat had taken them out hunting so I waited around and called and called for her. Then I remembered what I had seen on Sunday afternoon.

I was in Rico's pen Sunday afternoon and had noticed a car going down the gravel road. It stopped, a woman got out and opened the trunk, closed it and took off again. I didn't think much of it at the time but it was now clearly obvious I had seen a monster at work. These kittens were not old enough to fend for themselves. One was killed on the road and the others would have starved if I hadn't decided to walk the extra distance that night.

I decided to walk home and come back with the car to pick up the kittens. Rico and I headed for home. I looked behind us and lo and behold, the three kittens decided to follow along. It was an animal parade and I was the pied piper! Poor Rico was torn - do I follow Mom or do I go herd up the kittens? Luckily he decided to follow me. We walked a slower pace on the way back but it must have been quite a sight! I did have my cell phone along and took a photo. It's lousy quality but you get the idea...

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We got almost to the driveway and I decided to pick up the littlest of the three kittens. They had been on quite a hike so far. I picked it up and the kitten immediately jumped out of my arms into the ditch. I tried coaxing it back up to the road but it huddled into the grass. I decided to get Rico and the other two kittens up to John and I'd come back for the third one. As I was coming back a car went by on the road. The kitten must have got scared and disappearred further into the grass. I looked and looked but could not find it. John and I looked for two days but could not find the third kitten.

I took the two kittens to the vet on Friday. They had a myriad of problems but are on the mend now and have taken up residence in our pole barn. Their names are "Crash" and "Burn". We found out Burn is actually Burnadette. They are great entertainment for Rico and are teaching him that cats are OK. I still feel bad about the third kitten but at least we saved the two. I still can't imagine how someone could just drop them off like she did. There are some truely cruel people out there.

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Crash on the left, Burnadette on the right. They are a joy and John, I and Rico are head over heels!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Stray Baby or Superman?

I found a stray baby in my yard yesterday. Honest to God! I walked out my office door around 2:00 and looked up, there’s a 2-ish-year-old blonde-haired boy wearing nothing but a diaper standing under the pine trees. He couldn’t talk, just pointed and grunted. I looked around thinking someone had walked over with him and maybe was knocking on a door on the house, but no one was around.

I assumed he belonged across the road so I picked him up and walked down the driveway. I then discovered his vehicle was parked at the end of the driveway, a tricycle. I just gasped! Our road is so busy. So I picked up the trike with my other hand and started walking to the neighbors. Well, this kiddo was getting heavy so about halfway between our driveways and I put him on his trike and let him pedal home.

At the neighbors, an older boy rode his bike to the end of the driveway. I said, “Does this belong to you?” while pointing at the kidlet. He said “YES!” and rode his bike back up to the house. The teenage babysitter with 3 more kids came to meet us at the end of the driveway. She was pretty flustered. She said “I just heard the door shut and he was gone.” Um, sorry, didn’t fly with me. He had to have been gone at least 15-20 minutes to pedal down the driveway, up the road and walk up our hill. I told her, “He had to have been gone quite a long while to trek over to our house.” Later on Mom & Dad drove over and thanked me profusely. But I see the teenager’s car is over there again today.

John said I should’ve done what we do with stray dogs – put him in the dog pen until someone comes looking for him. ;) Good thing we’re not parents huh? That was the wierdest feeling though walking outside and there’s this baby in my yard! I’ve been watching too much TV, I checked to see if he had a bellybutton! Alien baby... could've been, you never know! He could've been a Superman baby. But then I figured they probably don't have Sesame Street Huggies on other planets.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Last Thing I Said

With the windows down on the non-airconditioned mini van on this 90-something degree day, I headed to the hospital for a heart stress/echo test. Doc thought it was a good idea to have an ECG (electrocardiogram) with my family history and some symptoms I've been having. With my tennis shoes in tow, I walked in and checked in at the front desk.

I was brought to the emergency room to have a nurse put in an i.v. for the procedure. I picked up the "Bazaar" magazine from the table and started some skimming while waiting to hear my name called. A woman with a young girl in her arms and a barefooted brother following behind walked in the door. The girl had cut her foot on some glass at the beach and had her big brothers t-shirt wrapped around her foot. They checked her out and took the young family back to an exam room.

Next a woman in her late 50's walked in and asked about a man that had been brought in earlier by ambulance. She said she worked with him. They asked her to take a seat. Within a few minutes another woman, also late 50's, early 60's walks in and greets the previous woman. Obviously distraught, this was the wife of the man brought in by ambulance. She went up to the desk with the co-worker and was asked to take a seat. I heard the co-worker say to the wife "he'll be just fine, he's a tough old coot."

Two women came out of the ER and went to the wife and introduced themselves as nurse "so and so" and this is "so and so" the social worker and would she, the wife, come with them to speak to the doctor. My heart worker. They walked out of the ER waiting room down the hall a bit and I heard a door click shut. Moments later I heard only her wails.

The heart wrenching sounds brought tears immediately. I felt like an invader in possibly the most horrible moment of her life - learning of the death of her husband. More wails. I looked over my shoulder at the co-worker seated behind me and her eyes were fixed down the hall with her hand over her mouth and tears running down her cheeks. In a few moments the doctor came for the co-worker and said the wife had asked for her.

I thought of my husband John immediately. How that could be him, that could be me, it could be any one of us at any time. My thoughts then raced to my Mom, who 33 years ago was that woman in a slightly different situation. I then wondered, what was the last thing I said to John? I didn't like the answer.

After the hour long procedure and my heart had been echoed, stressed, recorded, contrasted and imaged, I walked out into the heat again with tennis shoes in tow. As I left the parking lot of the hospital, I thought of the wife in the emergency room. How her life had changed in an instant. It was then I called my husband John at work and made sure the last thing I said to him was "I love you."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What's With This Concertina Thing?

I like the fact that after 18 years of marriage I can still throw my husband for a loop now and then. He was looking at my profile on my blog and noticed that "learning to play the concertina" was listed as an interest. The other night he came home and sat down in my office and asks, "What's with this concertina thing?"

It started a couple of years ago and was a combination of things. The first spark was a designer I was working with at the time had decided to learn how to play the accordian. Once the seed was planted, I started listening for the instrument in songs. We took a trip to Florida and went to a bar to see a band called The Yard Dogs. They had a great Zydeco/Cajun sound and one of the guys played the accordian. Then last winter my friend and I were in a Good Will store where they had just set out two accordians to sell. I got to touch and feel it and realized what a heavy and bulky instrument it was. We had a party to attend that night and we were both pretty confident that if we bought the accordians, we could learn "Mama Has A Squeeze Box" within a few hours and perform at the party. Although we both seriously thought about buying them, something in our gut told us not to. I still think it would've been a hoot!

One day this spring I was checking eBay and got into the instruments area and found the concertinas. Why hadn't I thought of that? It's small, less complicated and sounds wonderful in my opinion. So I decided I would look into buying one. One thought kept popping through my head, "can I play the instrument with a missing finger?" I found a concertina forum online and was reassured that it wouldn't be a problem. Once I got reading further on that forum, the decision started getting complicated. There's different styles, key configurations, numbers of keys and constructions of the concertina. Do I get a $120 China-made instrument that won't last very long or do I spend more and get a better quality instrument? I was amazed at the cost of the instruments but they also hold their value. Decisions, decisions!

Since I had waited for two years to get to this point, I've decided I can wait a bit longer and save up for a better instrument. So while I tuck away my pennies for a Stagi 30 button Anglo concertina, I'll keep listening for the instrument in the music around us.
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Here's a few links of concertina music:

Friday, July 14, 2006

A Good Sister Day

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My sister Nancy came down for a visit. Woo Hoo! I got my shopping fix in! We hit downtown Red Wing yesterday afternoon where I found the wonderful sign above. Then to Woodbury today where Nanc made some great finds for a room she just remodeled.

My sister has a contagious smile. We were at DSW Shoes and she went to check out her purchase. I told her I'd go out to the car and get the AC running as it was about 100 degrees out today. So I'm sitting in the car watching the people come out of the store. One woman walks out with her bag in hand with a great big smile on her face. She smiled all the way to her car. My first thought was "I bet Nancy was talking to her in the checkout lane." Sure enough, Nancy came out the door next and gave the woman a little wave and a smile as she drove by. The woman was buying shoes to wear at her daughter's wedding. Nancy's advice to her was to "just enjoy the day."

It was a good sister day. Thanks for coming down Nanc. I enjoyed our day.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Stand away from me pail you scurvy dogs!

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My friend/webmaster Cristina sent this photo of her daughter. Just in time for the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie release. Priceless!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Foggy Morning

A beautiful full moon, foggy morning out the front yard.
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Flowers in window box on my office.
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Monday, July 10, 2006

Born a Girl

"Born a girl." An interesting example of how a literal statement containing three small words can be grabbed by your imagination and tossed into a house of transgenderism, homosexuality, biological mishaps and beyond. No crisis or bio-mishap here...born a girl, still a girl and have no desire to be not a girl.

My connection with the phrase came about via a graphic design forum identity. I was assumed by many to be of the male persuasion on the forum. In talking with others, discovered the tendency is to assume the member is male unless there is an obvious female name, feminine image, or some give-away in the writings of the forum member. When I first joined there were several members that I too assumed to be male and over time discovered otherwise. I wonder why I have yet to discover the opposite - a member that I thought to be female who was male?

I did a little searching on "born a girl" and found some interesting links...

A song by the Manic Street Preachers
"Born A Girl"
Do I look good for you tonight
Will you accuse me as I hide
Behind these layers of disguise

And the mirrors of my own happiness

I've loved the freedom of being inside

Need a new start and a different time

Something grows in the space between me

And it's twisting and changing this fragile body

And I wish I had been born a girl

Instead of what I am

Yes I wish I had been born a girl

And not this mess of a man

And not this mess of a man

And not this mess of a man

The censorship of my skin

Is screaming inside and from within

There's no room in this world for a girl like me

No place around there where I fit in

And I wish I had been born a girl

Instead of what I am

Yes I wish I had been born a girl

And not this mess of a man

And not this mess of a man

And not this mess of a man

And not this mess of a man

And not this mess of a man

An article on a 13 year old Saudi girl and wondering “Why was I born a girl? This is a country of men and I would like to be one!”

Unfortunately there were several links with the same message that being born a girl in many cultures and countries is a sentence of a life of hardship. I am fortunate to have been born a girl in the U.S.


Song by Of Montreal
"Tim I Wish You Were Born a Girl"

Tim, wish you were born a girl,

So I could've been your boyfriend.
I know it's not possible now.
I just never met a girl I like half as much as you.

And we could lay around in bed, stay there all day,

Or at least until the afternoon
And I could make you spaghetti with tomato sauce
With just a touch of oregano and a parsley stem.

And then when you got sick,

I could take the day off work.
I could've made you chicken soup,
And we could watch soap operas
- oh, those TV dramas!
I could catch your cold
and you could take care of me.

If I could've met you at school, or met you at work,

It would have changed everything.
Those years of losing, confusion and insecurity,
They would have been shared,
they would have been easier.

Tim, wish you were born a girl,

So I could've been your fiancé.
I'm not saying you can't be all these things for me,
But it's just not the same because you're a man,
and so am I.